Protests are again rocking the US after a police officer shot and killed a 20-year-old black man in the Minnesota city of Minneapolis, less than half an hour from where George Floyd was killed.
The region’s police chief stood by the police officer who fired the fatal shot, telling reporters she had accidentally confused her handgun with her taser.
“The officer drew their handgun instead of their taser,” Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon said at a press conference about Sunday’s fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.
Mr Gannon said it was his belief that the officer, who has been placed on leave pending an investigation, “had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet”.
“This was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr Wright,” Mr Gannon said.
“There is nothing I can say to lessen the pain of Mr Wright’s family.”
Mr Gannon showed reporters police body camera video of the shooting, which sparked protests overnight in Brooklyn Center and the looting of a shopping mall.
In the video, police officers were seen pulling Mr Wright out of his car after stopping him for a traffic violation and discovering he had an outstanding warrant.
As Mr Wright scuffles with the officers and gets back into the driver’s seat of the car, a female police officer shouts “I’ll tase you” and then “taser, taser, taser.”
“Holy s**t, I shot him,” the officer said as Mr Wright, fatally wounded, drove away.
Curfew in place as protests continue
Authorities in and around Minneapolis announced a curfew for Monday night after the police shooting.
“I have declared a state of emergency in the city of Minneapolis, and we are following that up with a curfew that will begin at 7pm (Monday) to go until 6am (Tuesday) morning,” Mayor Jacob Frey told a press conference.
The curfew will also be enforced in the twin city of St. Paul and surrounding communities including Hennepin County, where Mr Wright was killed.
The police chief became emotional when he discussed the shooting with reporters last night but began to argue when reporters suggested the protests were being overblown.
“I was front and centre at the protest. At the riot,” Mr Gannon said.
“Don’t do that, there was no riot,” a reporter replied.
“There was,” Mr Gannon responded.
Mr Gannon told reporters one officer had been taken to hospital after being hit in the head with a brick.
“I’m the leader of this department. They expect me to lead. Create a safe city. That’s what I’m trying to do. So that’s it…Yeah, I’m emotional. I’m just trying to be honest,” the chief said.
The National Guard was called to the region after reports of looting.
Local reporters on the scene said they witnessed several businesses being “completely destroyed” as police and protesters continued to clash.
John Harrington, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said around 20 businesses around the Brooklyn Park area had been broken into.
Liz Sawyer, a reporter for Minnesota’s Star Tribune, said she had witnessed looting.
Minneapolis, the largest city in the US state of Minnesota, is already on edge because it is in the midst of the murder trial of George Floyd, an African American who died on May 25 last year after a white police officer placed his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.
That killing sparked a series of protests across the nation, some of them violent, and led to an ongoing racial reckoning in America.
Joe Biden calls for calm and a ‘full blown investigation
US President Joe Biden said the shooting of Mr Wright was “tragic” but warned that violent protests were unjustifiable.
“(The shooting) was a really tragic thing that happened but I think we have to wait and see what the investigation shows,” Mr Biden told reporters on Monday.
“In the meantime, I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification, none, for looting. Peaceful protests — understandable,” he added.
Mr Biden said he had been briefed and had seen the police body cam video showing the shooting.
Mr Biden called the footage “fairly graphic”.
“The question is, was it an accident, was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full blown investigation.” “In the meantime, I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification, none, for looting. Peaceful protests — understandable,” he said.
“The fact is that we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in the Black community, in that environment, is real. It’s serious and it’s consequential, but it does not justify violence or looting.
“We should listen to Daunte’s mum, who is calling for peace and calm.”
— With Wires